Annual dusting…

I love books. I love the way they feel in my hand. I love the way ink looks on the page. I love the entirely unique smell a room takes on when it’s full of books. 

Much as I love them, there’s one book-related task that I dread among all others. It’s the annual dusting of the books… and I’m in the midst of that particularly onerous task now. That means physically taking each one off the shelf, dusting it, making sure there’s no unexpected wear or damage, and putting it back. It’s not a complicated endeavor, but it’s intensely repetitive – one that I’m bound to repeat at least 1100 times across 15 different bookcases over the next few days.

It would be easy enough to let it go. I mean with very few exceptions you can’t even see the top edge of a book sitting on a shelf. The dust finds its way in there though… and I shudder to think what that build up might look like in another ten or fifteen years when I have a reason to do another wholesale move. I’ve seen too many books offered for sale, otherwise pristine, that were caked with top edge gunk from untold years of not being tended.

I like to think that these books will outlive me – going on to reside elsewhere, with someone who values them as I do, on the inevitable day when this collection must be broken up. Unless I come up with a better process, it means keeping up with the dusting.

From my admittedly biased position, it’s literally the only down side of having hundreds or thousands of texts at your fingertips. 

Mr. Clean…

I think it’s great that we have a contractor that handles the building’s janitorial services – cleaning restrooms, emptying trash, buffing the hallways. But I don’t understand why all of those things need to happen during normal business hours. Ever tried having a phone conversation when 2 industrial strength vacuum cleaners were running in your 40×40 foot section of cubicle farm? I don’t recommend it.

And while I’m on the topic of office cleanliness I’d happily trade one round of vacuuming a week for the occasional pass of a swiffer over the top of the cubicle walls. As a small test, I’ve had my name written in the dust on top of a file cabinet since Christmas. Seriously. I occasionally have to go back and go over it again it so the new dust doesn’t fill it in. I understand that it’s an office and not an operating room, but some attention to the little things would go a long way.

Editorial Note: This is part of a continuing series of previously unattributed posts appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.